Says a big bonus for New Zealand was seeing how Australia played there
“Actually, good for us to see them [Australia] play over there and see different cricket to probably the T20 we play here [in New Zealand], with scores being a lot lower and wickets being a bit more challenging,” Nicholls said. “Certainly for us, it has been good preparation and we will also have good preparation when we get there. We have a good four or five days before the first T20 to get accustomed to the wickets, but also the heat, by the look of things, will be quite a bit muggier. These are the challenges that as an international cricketer you enjoy – different conditions and different challenges.”
New Zealand have tuned themselves for those challenges by simulating spin-friendly conditions during their winter camps in Lincoln and Mount Maunganui.
“Yep, that’s the beauty at the Mount as well as Lincoln, with guys being able to get up to speed before going away on tour,” Nicholls said. “Previously you go on a tour, you have three-four days in new conditions to get to speed, but certainly we’ve had that for two weeks now. For bowlers as well – getting used to those different conditions; lots of change-ups and off-pace deliveries.”
Australia’s highest score across five T20Is earlier this month was 121 as they struggled on sluggish, grippy Dhaka tracks. Nicholls said that New Zealand have had “good learnings” from that series, and backed his team to find a way there.
“You saw from the Aussies, I guess the highest score was about 130 , whereas back here [in New Zealand] 180 is about the standard,” he said. “So, I guess as a batter, getting your head around that and knowing that the conditions are going to be a bit tougher. Certainly, it’s something that we are well-prepared for and certainly a big bonus for us is seeing how Australia played there and I guess the way they tried to play, which they usually play, was not as successful. Certainly, as a group, it has been good learnings for us and like I said we had a couple of good camps in the last two weeks before flying out.”
“Yeah, it’s great. It has been pretty well-documented… the length [of] the tours this winter with the T20 World Cup at the end,” Nicholls said. “It’s a good opportunity for guys who are probably a bit less experienced. But I think it’s amazing if you look at the squad, the guys have actually been in the environments before. It’s exciting to have guys like Ben Sears and Cole McConchie involved and obviously they’ve been performing well domestically, so [it is an] exciting opportunity for them and all of us every time you go to the subcontinent – different conditions is a challenge and it’s something as a group that we’re looking forward to.”
The New Zealand contingent will arrive in Dhaka on Tuesday and undergo a three-day quarantine before starting to train at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, where all five matches of the series will be played.
“We’ve got the midnight flight out of here [Auckland] to Singapore,” Nicholls said. “So, the latest one out of Christchurch was at 3 o’clock, so we’ve been at the airport for a while. There’s been a lot of cards played already, which is probably a sign of things to come on the tour. Obviously, it’ll be pretty hotel-bound, but everyone is pretty prepared for it. I guess we are all ready for it and excited to get to know each other a bit more and enjoy a good tour.”
From Bangladesh, New Zealand will fly to Pakistan, where they will play three ODIs in Rawalpindi followed by five T20Is in Lahore. Nicholls put “full faith” in New Zealand cricket’s pre-tour reconnaissance for what will be their first visit to Pakistan in 18 years.
“It’s something that has been talked about a bit in the media,” he said. “But I certainly know as a players’ group and New Zealand Cricket’s point of view that the security checks that they do – and everything like that – we have full faith in that and that is being completed at the moment.
“The recommendations that come from that, as a playing group, we have a lot of trust in that, so we know they won’t put us in any undue danger. And we know obviously Pakistan as well will do everything they can to have cricket in there, which is again an exciting prospect for everyone.”
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo